Reflection as Ethical Process in Documentary Film: Eight Decision-Making Issues

Garnet C. Butchart, Amir Har-Gil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Traditionally, the objective of documentary filmmaking is to look and to teach—to add perspective on, by way of building knowledge about, issues of public concern. Cinema and media studies scholarship on that enterprise typically focuses on its audio-visual content, what is seen and heard on screen. Much less scholarship is concerned with what is not, or cannot usually, be said and seen in the cinematic space of the documentary screen, such as the process of making documentary films and videos. In contrast to the former tradition of scholarship, this article focuses on the decision-making process involved in the practice of making documentary films. Drawing on interviews with professional documentary filmmakers in Israel conducted over a 10-year period, the article identifies 8 major decision-making issues common to documentary filmmaking. We contend that reflection on those 8 image-making decisions, as demonstrated by media professionals reflecting on them, is a core ethical process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58-72
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Media Ethics: Exploring Questions of Media Morality
Issue number2
StatePublished - 3 Apr 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, © 2019 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Philosophy


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